A Shepparton police officer, local council and the head of tourism believe people should highlight Shepparton's positives, instead of looking at the negatives.CHRISTIAN DOW December 6, 2012 10:24am
A search for the word ‘‘Shepparton’’ on Facebook returns a popular page depicting local violence, bullying and derogatory comments about the town and its people.
In September, a story in The Age painted a particularly bleak picture of the city, citing a high number of incidents of violence, unemployment, increasing crime rates, suicide, drug use and health problems.
When The News hit the streets yesterday to find out people’s views on their town, opinions were divided.
The region’s top police officer, a tourism operator and the Greater Shepparton City Council say negative comments are unfair.
Shepparton police Inspector Ian Bull has worked in the police force for 36 years, in metropolitan and country areas.
Insp Bull questions those who say Shepparton is unsafe.
He said assaults in the streets had reduced dramatically during recent years and Shepparton was ‘‘safer than ever’’.
He said there was a misconception Shepparton was a dangerous place to go out, especially at night.
‘‘How many of these people go out?,’’ Insp Bull asked.
He said most people had heard it was unsafe, or had a bad experience many years ago.
He said the biggest cause of violence in Shepparton was domestic abuse — the figures for this were constantly rising, because people felt safer reporting it.
He said Shepparton police had three dedicated members working on home violence and there had been positive results.
Greater Shepparton City Council also said the statistics told a different story. In a written response yesterday, a council spokesperson referred to 2006-11 Census information, which showed City of Greater Shepparton and Ballarat were the only regional centres with positive population growth.
‘‘The region has an economic output of $6.9 billion dollars and 131 people were employed as part of a recent jobs drive,’’ the spokesperson said.
A key initiative, It Takes a Village, brings together service providers to address issues of social disadvantage, including youth disengagement and unemployment.
The council spokesperson said it had also listened to community feedback and would soon be tendering for CCTV cameras to be installed in the central business district to address safety issues.
Also, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan said: ‘‘My vision is for the people of Greater Shepparton to be healthy and active members of the community in working towards achieving their full potential as people and as citizens.
Tourism Greater Shepparton president Cheryl Hammer said life here was simply what you made of it.
She was a lavender farmer for 12 years, starting in the Cosgrove and Dookie area, and is heavily involved in promoting Dookie as a destination outside of Shepparton.
She said Shepparton had a lot to offer and the number of attractions was growing — one example being Shepparton Art Museum, which is ‘‘kicking some huge goals’’ for this area.
‘‘To say that we don’t have a lot to do, that we’re not a destination, is really quite shortsighted,’’ Ms Hammer said.
‘‘Greater Shepparton is definitely becoming a player in the destination sector.
‘‘The amount of people who do come back is staggering.’’
Ms Hammer said she knew many people who worked hard to acknowledge the good things about the region.
‘‘Unfortunately Shepp, for a number of reasons, does get a bad rap,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not the town’s fault. We’ve just gotta keep working on the other side, about everything that’s good about the place.
‘‘It’s what you make it.’’
Shepparton’s Declo Bisimwa firmly believes education is the key to a better life.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Garners Boxing Gym in Echuca is encouraging young people to get active with weekly boxing/cardio classes.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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